Bible Dictionary: Prayer

by: Guy Templeton

December 5, 2013

There are some interesting differences between ancient prayer and modern prayer according to the LDS Bible Dictionary.

The attitude of prayer ordinarily was standing.  (1 Sam. 1:26; Neh. 9:2, 4; Matt. 6:5; Luke 18:11, 13); also kneeling (1 Kgs. 8:54; Ezra 9:5; Dan 6:10); or prostrate (josh. 7:6; Neh. 8:6).  The hands were spread forth to heaven (1 Kgs. 8:22; Ezra 9:5; Ps. 141:2; Isa. 1:15).  Smiting on the breast and rending of the garments signified special sorrow (Ezra 9:5; Luke 18:13).

As missionaries, I remember teaching people to pray, but I never have done some of these ancient practices.  Have any of you smote your breast in prayer?  Have you prayed prostrate, or rent your garments?

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4 Responses to Bible Dictionary: Prayer

  1. Hedgehog on December 5, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    No, I haven’t.
    Does tearing my hair out count (I don’t think I actually pulled it out, but tugging at it anyway).

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  2. MH on December 5, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    My son likes to crawl into bed and say prayers. Maybe I should consider that ok instead of brow-beating him to kneel?

    Jared, here’s another good scripture post for you to comment on.

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  3. Nate on December 5, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I think it would be a good idea to encourage more creative and open ways of praying. After all, we are supposed to pray always, so that means praying standing up, walking, lying down, going to the bathroom, whenever, whatever. But prayer should also have a ritual element, like kneeling and doing it at certain times of the day. These could be more creative: medative walks, reading psalms out loud like Jews do, clasping our hands together like Catholics, praying to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, smiting our breasts, rending our clothes.

    You can even yell at God, get angry with Him. Then repent and wail, then become contrite. Give God everything, even your weaknesses and impatience with Him. Be honest with Him. He already knows everything, so why put on pretentions in His presence? Just tell Him you are having a hard day and that you are frustrated. Complain to Him. Get intimate with God. Treat Him as your best friend, as a lover, or as a Father, anything to get closer to Him.

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  4. Abu Casey on December 6, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    Nate, I like your suggestions. I’ve decided recently that since I’m so terrible at saying on-my-knees, start-and-end-the-day prayers, I’m going to try the Tevye route. Not so much with the arguing with God approach, but praying when I’ve got things on my mind that are worth praying about. All sorts of stuff crosses through my mind during the day that would be worth talking to God about, but first thing in the morning or last thing of the day is rarely a time when I can summon those thoughts.

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